“Time to get back on the pitch”, small firms tell government, after policy-light PM speech

Responding to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conference speech, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry said:

“The vision championed by the Prime Minister today does not match the current lived realities of small businesses and sole traders. For it to be realised, we need ambitious policies aimed at driving growth and reducing tax at the coming Budget. After a conference that’s been light on pro-business policy, it’s time for the party of enterprise to get back on the pitch.   

“It’s a relief to hear the PM speak positively about the business community. But it’s equally remarkable to hear the benefits of a low tax economy vaunted when the government has just signed off a hike in national insurance contributions for employers, sole traders and employees alike, which we estimate will cost at least 50,000 jobs.

“If this government wants a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy then it needs to stop hitting our 5.9 million small businesses with high tax bills before they’ve made a pound in turnover, let alone profit.

“Doing so will be fundamental to delivery of the levelling-up vision. Take our proposal to increase the small business rates relief ceiling to £25,000 – an intervention that will help high streets in our most deprived communities, giving small firms more space to create opportunities and drive local growth.  

“You have to start with reducing upfront business taxes and costs to unlock investment in training, recruitment and innovation. If you think that process works in reverse, you’re putting the cart before the horse.  

“Small firms are up against supply chain disruption, skills shortages, emergency debt repayments, spiralling input costs and struggles to find fuel. They were hoping to hear a practical, clear action plan for addressing these issues emerge from this conference. They have been left wanting.  

“With furlough ending, turning jabs, jabs, jabs into jobs, jobs, jobs will mean helping the small businesses that hire 60 per cent of the private sector workforce as they wrestle with surging operating and tax costs. That starts with increasing the Employment Allowance – a pledge to do so was rightly central to this government’s manifesto.”